Police stop more blacks, Ont. study finds

Kingston, Ont., police stop a disproportionate number of young black and aboriginal men, study says.

Kingston police stop a disproportionate number of young black and aboriginal men, according to findings released on Thursday from the first racial profiling study done in Canada.

The report said police in this mostly white eastern Ontario city were 3.7 times as likely to stop a black person as a Caucasian, and 1.4 times more likely to stop an aboriginal than a white person.

But the report also found that police were less likely to stop other minorities such as Asians or South Asians.

Kingston' s police chief initiated the study one year ago in response to a series of high-profile incidents involving black youths.

The year-long project saw Kingston police keep racial statistics on each person they stopped, including race, ethnicity and the reason for pulling them over.

Although a number of police forces in the United States and Britain routinely collect statistics on race, Canadian police services have been strongly opposed to it, said Prof. Scot Wortley, a criminologist at the University of Toronto who analyzed the data.

Canadian police have said it may cause them to second-guess who they pull over, while other critics say it fuels racial prejudices.

"There are real situations that exist where people are getting targeted for their racial and ethnic background with no other basis," Libby Davies, a New Democratic MP from British Columbia, told CBC News. Davies is promoting a bill that would outlaw racial profiling and provide a complaint mechanism.

But the Association of Black Law Enforcers welcomed the report. "This whole research is just the beginning of what I think should be something national because the community keeps telling us something is happening," said group spokesman Sgt. Chris Bullen.

While Wortley praised Kingston's police department for taking the first step, he said the project is only useful if it isn't shelved.

"I think this is something that has to go on – on an ongoing basis – much like it is in Great Britain," he said.

"Monitoring and evaluation are the only ways we're going to change behaviours," he said.